Trauma Informed Case Study
Helping a diverse academy trust create a trauma-informed school experience
Avanti is an academy trust serving a family of 12 schools in the UK. They came to us having already begun their journey towards becoming a trauma-informed community. A recent Ofsted report highlighted opportunities to develop their safeguarding policies and procedures to help students feel more safe.
Avanti’s safeguarding lead approached us looking to develop more robust policies and procedures that better support the young people in their care.
The goal was to create an environment where survivors felt safe to make first disclosures and supported as they navigate life post-disclosure.
Speaking to students to inform policy and procedure
Our first step was to deliver teacher training on consent, healthy relationships and pornography for Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. This gave staff the skills and information they needed to tackle these subjects with their students.
Next, ICENA held youth work groups with students from a range of age categories to begin developing the academy’s disclosure policy. It’s shown that if more students feel comfortable with the disclosure policy, there will be more disclosures and the school can support more survivors.
Our trainer, Kat, created a safe environment that allowed the participants to talk about everything from sex and consent to sexual violence and mental health. Students shared the factors that would make them feel safe disclosing to a member of staff. We learnt that students would feel more comfortable disclosing to a younger member of staff. (And their definition of young was slightly less forgiving than our own!)
We also gained some unexpected insights. The academy knew there was ongoing peer-on-peer sexual harassment within the age group, but not how much of it was happening online. Students told us they didn’t know how to handle this kind of abuse or who to speak to about it. This would end up forming a vital part of our policy recommendations. We also updated Avanti’s consent training to cover the topic in more detail.
From there, we drew up recommendations for young person-led safeguarding and first disclosure policies for the academy.
Reaching out to every student
Avanti serves a mixture of religious and non-religious schools. The teaching staff also represent a range of religious beliefs. But regardless the religion, the Chief Executive at Avanti was very clear that sexual violence of any kind is not to be tolerated, and he offered his full support in sharing this message with the staff and students in his care. It was clear how much student safety means to the staff at Avanti.
Taking the next step to trauma-informed
Once the new policy is drawn up, our next step will be to hold a follow up workshop where the young people can review it. They will have the opportunity to share their feedback and shape the final draft.
With the new policy in place, we will train staff and youth workers on the new policy and the opinions behind it.
Though the project isn’t yet complete, it’s clear our work has already begun to have an impact. By consulting with young people, Avanti has shown it’s committed to going above and beyond to support young people and ensure they feel seen and heard. Avanti is already well on its way to becoming trauma-informed and making sure that the opinions and feelings of its student body are valued and appreciated.
In return, the young people in Avanti schools have demonstrated that they’re brave and willing to speak up for themselves, their fellow students and future students. We’re so impressed and can’t wait to follow their progress.
If you’d like to talk to ICENA about creating training for your organisation, get in touch.